Khartoum, Sudan Report of what it's like to live there - 06/22/11
Personal Experiences from Khartoum, Sudan
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Memphis, it takes about 16 hours with connections thru either Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Trailing spouse of Foreign Service Officer
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Apartments, townhouses, and single detached homes for higher up officers.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Expensive! Take advantage of your consumables shipment. There isn't a commissary here and most Western items are at least $20 or more.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Restaurants are plentiful, and just like in the States, you can eat cheaply with some effort.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Domestic help is available and varies anywhere from $200 to $400 per month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, at the embassy and at the Rotana hotel
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Khartoum is a cash economy. Due to sanctions, credit cards and debit cards can't even be used. I don't think you would want to anyways.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There's a Roman Catholic church downtown on the Nile.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
English TV is available. We paid $300 every 6 months for about 50 English channels.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can get by without Arabic.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I think it would be very difficult.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
RSO prohibits the use of taxis and tuk-tuks.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, you pay your bill at the embassy, usually about $50/month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
The embassy provides a cell phone, and you pay your bill for personal calls thru the Embassy.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
There are a couple of vets in town. We adopted a puppy while in Khartoum and were able to get all her shots before returning to the States.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual at the embassy. In public, as a woman, I didn't feel comfortable wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts. Women don't have to cover their heads.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Embassy personnel have to travel in armored vehicles. RSO discourages walking outside.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
you can some medical treatments on the local economy, but anything major requires medevac to London.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot, hotter, hottest. Khartoum is really nice during the winter months though.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Currently, Khartoum is a partially unaccompanied post so no one under 21 comes here. However, the Khartoum American School is phenomenal if children are allowed at post again.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
generally good, though some people come to post with high expectations and are greatly disappointed.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Again, there's a good expat social scene.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Couples with no kids and singles definitely. With such a large UN and NGO presence in Sudan, there's a social scene.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
For the most part not. However, a friend and I were called prostitutes while waiting for a car on one occasion.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Visiting ruins in northern Sudan, cruises on the Nile
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Sense of adventure.
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Do you have any other comments?
Khartoum was definitely an experience for us. It's not as horrible as people back in DC make it out to be. As long as your patient, and have a sense of adventure, you can have a really good time in Khartoum. Be sure to take advantage of the places you can travel to relatively cheaply from Khartoum- Cairo, Addis Ababa, Amman, Dubai...